Bernalillo Mayor calls out DOT for Hwy 550 construction nightmare

New Mexico

BERNALILLO, N.M. (KRQE) – Construction on Highway 550 in Bernalillo is in full force, but the bumper to bumper traffic it’s creating is not sitting well for some drivers, especially the Mayor of Bernalillo. It’s got him so ticked off, he’s now calling out the Department of Transportation (DOT).

“I went out Saturday and experienced as a motorist, like everybody else, how bad the situation was,” says Mayor Jack Torres.

Mayor Torres says he didn’t anticipate just how bad traffic on Hwy 550 would be once the Department of Transportation started construction about two weeks ago.

“It just bothered me,” he says.

On Saturday, Mayor Torres posted a complaint on the town’s Facebook page, calling out the DOT and the project’s contractor after sitting in traffic for more than an hour.

“I know they can’t eliminate delays, but they need to be reasonable. What we’ve seen this past week just hasn’t been reasonable,” he says.

Aside from the normal commuter complaints, Mayor Torres is worried about the town’s first responders.

“My fire chief. My police chief. All of us are really concerned about if we need, or when we need to get to something, are we going to be able to get there?” he says.

A DOT spokesperson admits, this last week was something the department did not expect.

“With construction, there’s always those unforeseen circumstances and that’s just what happened with this,” says Kimberly Gallegos, DOT spokesperson.

The DOT heard from a lot of angry drivers this weekend.

“We ask for their continued patience. We understand. We hear you guys,” says Gallegos.

DOT crews have been working over the weekend to get the current issues fixed to minimize build-up as much as possible.

As construction continues for the next two years, Mayor Torres hopes drivers can remember to be kind to one another on the road.

“Everybody has to accept that there are going to be delays. People need to do their best to be patient,” he says.

The DOT is working on putting out weekly updates through its website and an email blast to let drivers know of upcoming delays. This construction project for Hwy 550 is scheduled to be completed in fall 2021.

Map of recommended alternate routes >>

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